For the past few years in my walk with God, he has given me a strong desire to learn the truth in all areas of doctrine. I wanted the truth, and I still do even now, but in my zeal for truth I failed to realise that not every source of knowledge which I was exposed to was free of bias and hidden agendas. Not everything that someone who claims to be a “lover of truth” says or writes is true; every single person has a natural bias which they are blind to. This bias comes from many different outside sources, creating a presuppositional framework of belief. Many of these beliefs are simply taught to us when we grow up and we never see any reason to question them.
The presupposition which I accepted because of my evangelical/fundamentalist upbringing was this: that the Bible is the perfect, inspired, inerrant Word of God.
Now, this might shock you if you’ve never thought deeply about the doctrine of Biblical inerancy (if you’re a fundamentalist or an evangelical Christian). Because the doctrine of inerrancy is equated with faith in God himself; “if you don’t believe the Bible is the inerrant Word of God, then you don’t really believe in the God of the Bible.” This made up quote could very well have been uttered by some Christian, somewhere, sometime… (And if you’re thinking right now in your mind “this guy’s a heretic!” then please, don’t stop reading yet. Maybe I’m not really a heretic?)
But what happens when you truly embrace this doctrinal presupposition? That the Bible is 100% free of any mistakes? And that it is the very Word of God, like God himself wrote every single word contained within its sixty-six books?
If you’re logically consistent, then the first thing you will do is throw out all Bible translations which are anything less than a word-for-word translation. You would switch to only using a translation which is the most faithful rendering of the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek.
This is what I did: I searched via the internet to find which Bible translation is the most accurate. And due to what I read, I then started believing that the NASB is the closest and most accurate translation of the Word of God. I stopped reading the NIV which I grew up with and switched over to the NASB. The NASB was my faithful companion for the next two years.
But then something happened: I somehow got exposed to the teachings of King James Onlyism.
They claimed that the King James Bible is the perfect, inspired, inerrant Word of God in the English language. And so I read… and read, and read, and continued to read more and more articles “proving” how the King James is perfect and how every other translation after 1611 is a Jesuit conspiracy against the Christian church. I was mostly convinced. I refused to listen to anyone who disproved this notion, suspecting that they were secretly a Jesuit shill hellbent on deceiving me away from God’s Word.
About this time right before I finally switched over to King James Onlyism I started watching on youtube, sermons by a Baptist pastor named Steven Anderson. I was shocked at first – this guy would yell at the top of his lungs, bash the pulpit, and unashamedly oppose the decline of western society. Here is someone who seemed to take the Bible seriously. Listening to Anderson is what finally convinced me of the conspiracy against the church.
I began to purchase King James Bibles, fearing that the New World Order was going to force them out of print to deprive us of God’s word. I started giving them away to friends and relatives in hopes that their eyes would also be opened to the truth. The few people that I brought the topic up with seemed to think of me as crazy. I started to believe that almost everybody I know who claims to be a Christian is actually deceived and not really saved, all because they clung to their NIV’s, their NKJV’s, their ESV’s and their Amplified’s. My soul began to despair at the thought that I’m the only Christian in my circle of relations who is saved.
The feelings of loneliness which were brought on made me take a break from listening to Steven Anderson. So I continued to study theology – ignoring the advice of the most vocal King James proselytizers. (They actively tell their congregations not to even bother looking at the original languages – and to even “throw your Strong’s Concordance in the trash!” They seem to have a strongly anti-intellectual disposition).
Then I had this thought: “what happens when we die?” And at this point I became aware of a doctrinal presupposition which I was currently believing, that once we die, we go straight to either Heaven or hell. But it was true, wasn’t it? The King James would seem to indicate so, with the story of the rich man and Lazarus from Luke 16. With a commitment to take everything written as being literal over allegorical this created a theological contradiction. I had been studying the Gospel of John, and Jesus made it clear that there would be a resurrection at the end of the world. So maybe this story of the rich man and Lazarus was simply a parable?
Then controversy broke out: on youtube, Steven Anderson was making it seem like there had been a wolf in sheep’s clothing – an undercover deceiver running about – a coup in the making to split his church and topple his pastoral authority. This controversy was over the exact definitions of the Trinity, with some of the members claiming that Jesus is the Father.
Anderson gave the impression that they are all unsaved reprobates and heretics, and so he had kicked them out of his church. He then proceeded to deliver multiple sermons on the Trinity. But this was then challenged by counter videos by the so-called-wolves who showed that they only believed the same definitions of the Trinity that Anderson himself used to believe.
Hypocrisy. And Steven Anderson refused to admit any wrongdoing on his part.
This lead me to watch some videos exposing Anderson as being the actual wolf. One of these videos also showed some examples of how King James Onlyism is false. Since then, I have stopped listening to Anderson completely, and believe him to be a raving lunatic.
Though this is where I came full circle. One video in particular showed how some of the readings in the Tyndale Bible are more faithful than those of the King James:
Colossians 3:12, Tyndale New Testament
Now therfore as electe of god holy and beloved put on tender mercie kyndnes humblenes of myndes meknes longe sufferynge
Colossians 3:12, King James Version
Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;
The wording of note is the King James use of the word “bowels.” While it is actually a literal rendering of the Greek, the meaning is completely lost on us. The bowels (the intestines) were regarded in Hebrew times as being the seat of emotions, similar to how we in modern times use the heart as being the centre of our deepest feelings.
Now this did not immediately make me abandon the King James, but caused me to start questioning again the Greek words behind the English text. As I wrote above that I had been studying what occurs right after death, this renewed interest in the Greek led to my discovery that the word which the King James translates as “hell” is actually three different words: gehenna, hades, and tartarus. And for the Old Testament the Hebrew word is sheol.
Now, why would the King James translators do this? According to the King James fanatic, there is nothing wrong with these translations – in fact, they will claim that to replace those words with transliterations like most modern versions do is a sinister plot to wipe out the traditional doctrine of hell from our Bibles. But this claim is patently false when examined more closely.
In the Old Testament, the King James uses the word “hell” to describe the fate of the lost, but whenever the same Hebrew word sheol is used in relation to the righteous, the King James instead calls it “the grave.” This is a translation bias due to the doctrine of hell which most of the Church during the Reformation held to (the doctrine that states that immediately after death, a sinner goes straight to hell, rather than a waiting period likened to sleep, until the resurrection and last judgement). Now I simply believe that after death, everybody is immediately resurrected into the future to stand before God, and to then be cast into the lake of fire, or to enter into eternal life. Two thousand years of earthly time could feel like a second. (I will discuss this in more detail in a future post).
So what did this theological shift cause for my King James Onlyism? I finally decided to search up for “errors in the King James.” And found a list of items which the author claims are proven mistakes.
As usual, there are a few KJ devotees in the comments section who “debunk” the claim that these are genuine contradictions. But one of those items on the list cannot be debunked in some creative fashion. It is a genuine error in the King James. (Though it is not an error of translation, it is an actual error in the underlying Hebrew text).
2 Chronicles 36:9 KJV
Jehoiachin was eight years old when he began to reign…
2 Kings 24:8 KJV
Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he began to reign…
The Old Testament contains many parallel passages of scripture, much like the New Testament contains four different gospel accounts. But in this parallel account of one of the kings of Judah, one passage says he was eight years old, the other says he was eighteen years old. There is no denying that this is an error. Yet KJV fanatics will either deflect and ignore this error or try and create some method to explain it away. THIS IS HUMAN BIAS. Please, if you’re reading this and you’re a King James Onlyist, open your eyes and just accept the truth: the KJV is not inerrant.
How did this honestly make me feel when I accepted the fact of the matter? I felt afraid. I felt like I had lost some sense of certainty in life. There is a certain level of dependency that King James onlyism creates for the literal printed words of the Bible rather than a childlike faith in God himself; faith in the English words rather than faith in the Eternal Word who is Jesus Christ. The feeling of fear only lasted a short while – and it’s good that my time as a KJ Onlyist lasted only five months.
After coming to grips with the truth, I simply delved deeper into studying theology – my faith in God is still as strong as ever. According to the author of PostBarthian, the doctrine of Biblical inerrancy (as the church teaches it in modern times) is actually not how the church has historically viewed the scriptures, and that Martin Luther did not blindly accept the sixty-six books of the Bible as being the inerrant word of God, but used a Christ centred hermeneutic, embracing every scripture which preached Christ – and rejecting every scripture which did not preach Christ. Luther placed the books of Hebrews, James, Jude, and Revelation, into a separate section of his German translation of the Bible.
You might be thinking that I’ve simply stopped believing in the Bible and become a liberal. I have not become a liberal. My faith is in God. I guess my exact position regarding the scriptures is currently in limbo. The question you might want to ask is this: “what Bible did Abraham have?” The answer is none. Abraham simply had faith in God.
If the thought of the Bible containing mistakes makes you question your faith, please don’t. The goal of this post is not to make anyone lose faith. But what are you placing your faith in? Have you come to know God in a personal way, or do you simply believe he exists because that’s what people have conditioned you into believing? Our God is a self-revealing God. If he has revealed his existence to you, then even if you did not have a perfect Bible, you will never lose faith. God is our provider and sustenance.
Christians are called to walk by faith.